BAYSIDE, CALIFORNIA, November 16, 2011 – Monterey Jazz Festival organizers decided that 2011 was the year they would bring performances from the venerable festival to a global audience through the power of streaming media. The decision paid off as the festival and two media partners reported impressive online viewing statistics for performers including the Robert Glasper Experiment, Carmen Souza and the Benny Green Trio. Streaming media and content delivery provider StreamGuys provided the Internet broadcast services for the 54th Monterey Jazz Festival. Evening performances from the Night Club/Bill Berry Stage were hosted live over the websites of the Monterey Jazz Festival and Santa Cruz-based NPR member station KUSP-FM. Popular NPR jazz music blog “A Blog Supreme” also hosted the performances.
StreamGuys delivered H.264 video and AAC+ audio at varying bit rates to support an array of user speeds and media players. The company used its highly scalable, virtualized streaming infrastructure to deliver live, synchronized video and audio streams to desktops, laptops and mobile devices. StreamGuys provided embedded media players to all three websites to give viewers direct, simple and free access to the live streams.
Timothy Orr, marketing associate for Monterey Jazz Festival, noted that streaming media offers a unique opportunity to introduce jazz to new audiences. The webcast recorded more than 3,000 visitors from 59 countries, and expects that to grow in the coming years with more advance promotion.
“It’s about reaching more people,” said Orr. “We want to increase our audiences and put something out there that inspires people to come to the festival. Jazz needs to grow as a genre, and using technology in a forward-thinking manner is an ideal way to engage a younger demographic while gaining more exposure for the festival and the artists.”
The Monterey Jazz Festival first experimented with streaming media in April 2011, delivering stationary, single-camera live feeds to the Internet for its Next Generation Jazz Festival, which highlights top student musicians from around the country. Orr and his team, together with representatives from KUSP, soon began conversations with StreamGuys to put streaming plans in place for the September 2011 Monterey Jazz Festival.
McCune Audio produced the live video and audio, handing off the synchronized signal to StreamGuys via a Wirecast encoder. StreamGuys re-wrapped the original H.264 video stream for delivery to Apple iOS systems, Android mobile devices and embedded Flash players for web streaming. Multiple audio bit rates (300, 800 and 1500kbps) supported adaptive bit rate streaming in iOS and web-based platforms, ensuring that mostly anyone with a 3G, Wi-Fi or broadband connection could stream the performances.
“Streaming has become more of a reality for many organizations as people have moved away from dial-up and toward DSL, cable and T1, and the Next Generation Jazz Festival gave us the opportunity to evaluate today’s streaming experience,” said Orr. “We wanted the Monterey Jazz Festival stream to resemble a TV special with a professional, multi-camera shoot. We had the venue, the performers, the production team and the media partners, but no one to deliver it to the world. It was important for us to partner with a company like StreamGuys that had the experience.”
Steve Laufer, director of new media at KUSP-FM, was already familiar with StreamGuys, which hosts the station’s “KUSP Music Show Player” (http://kusp.org/archive/102.html), offering weekly music shows around the clock. KUSP has been affiliated with the festival for more than 30 years, broadcasting afternoon and evening performances from its largest venue over the air. This year was also the first time the station streamed video performances from the festival.
“StreamGuys made it easy for us to embed the stream in our web page, and provided onsite personnel and technical support over the phone throughout,” said Laufer. “The stream quality looked great, especially when viewed at full screen.”
Orr added that StreamGuys provided real-time viewer statistics that allowed all three media partners to confirm the number of viewers at each site at any time.
“The success of this event is a result of the synergy between a media company, a production company, a content delivery company and an entertainment company,” he said. “We proved that it can be done; now it’s about how far we will take it,” concluding the festival will explore a potential mix of free streams and subscription models.